Fulham War Veteran Charles Daley Remembered

MP dedicates constituency tribute to him in Commons Garden of Remembrance

Greg Hands placing the tribute to Oswald Stoll's Charles Daley
Greg Hands placing the tribute to Oswald Stoll's Charles Daley

Greg Hands MP has made a World War Two veteran from Fulham the subject of the Chelsea and Fulham tribute at the House of Commons Constituency Garden of Remembrance this week.

He was contacted by constituents with a number of suggestions as to who should be particularly remembered. Acknowledging that the all the suggestions were very moving and equally worthy of honouring, he ultimately decided to dedicate the tribute to his late constituent, Mr Charles Daley, and the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation.

Mr Hands said, “Charles was one of the many veterans who have been supported and helped by the Stoll Foundation and I would therefore like to pay tribute to the fantastic work that this organisation still does to this very day.”

Charles Daley, who died in 2012, was one of the few survivors of the notorious Wormhoudt Massacre

He was serving with “A” Company 2nd Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment as part of the British Expeditionary Force in France when he was captured on the retreat to Dunkirk. He was fighting with the rearguard in the town of Wormhoudt when his regiment was forced to surrender having run out of ammunition and in the face of overwhelming opposition. They were rounded up by the Liebstandarte-SS Adolf Hitler Regiment one of whom came up to Mr Daley and shot him in the shoulder shouting “Englander schwein!”.

They were then marched with soldiers from other captured units with any stragglers being shot. Around 90 men were herded into a barn and grenades were thrown in by the Nazi soldiers. Sergeant Moore and CSM Jennings threw themselves on top of the grenades and were killed instantly along with those nearby. The Germans came back to kill off any survivors and Mr Daley was shot again as automatic gunfire was spread across the barn. When he regained consciousness he realised that he had been badly hit in the right leg but remained in the barn for several days with other survivors collecting water. Later two German medics came to the barn and saw the wounded British servicemen and called for an ambulance. A dozen British soldiers survived the massacre including Mr Daley who was taken to Boulogne where an English surgeon, also a prisoner of war, amputated his leg.

He remained a prisoner of war until 1943 when he was repatriated under a prisoner exchange arrangement.

Although a War Crime Interrogation Unit investigated the incident after the war, many of those responsible had been killed on the Russian front and nobody was convicted in connection with the massacre.

After the war Charles Daley married Florence James from the World’s End Estate in Chelsea and work as a dispatch clerk for John Lewis until his retirement in 1978. Due to his disabilities, they lived at the Stoll Foundation in Fulham for many years, as pillars of the veteran community there.

A cross in Mr Daley’s honour was placed in the Remembrance garden in Westminster by Mr Hands on 9 November.

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November 15, 2021